Students’ rights activists yesterday voiced their support for former Vanung University student Chiu Chih-yen (邱智彥), who was allegedly expelled from the school for his attempt to found a student organization, and urged universities to “lift martial law” from campus.
Appearing at a forum on students’ rights yesterday, Chiu told participants that he was expelled from the school for insisting on creating a student organization focusing on social issues and disadvantaged groups in society.
According to Chiu’s account — supported by several documents and a video clip — he submitted an application to create a student organization with the name “Voices of the Marginalized,” but was turned down because school officials thought the name was not appropriate.
“Then I changed the name several times, including the ‘Political Commentary Club’ — which the school said was ‘too political,’ and finally, they accepted the name ‘Social and Humanitarian Club,’” Chiu recounted. “But then they said I needed endorsements from students from at least eight departments at the school.”
Chiu said that the requirement did not originally exist, but was added into the school’s rules in late December after his application process had dragged on for a long time.
After Chiu completed the required process, “the school then told me that I needed to wait while they took care of the application of the Robot Club. I waited and waited, but kept being told that they were still reviewing the other club’s application,” Chiu said.
Sensing that the school was purposely trying to block his application, he began a one-person sit-in protest outside of the school, but it only got him into more trouble.
In the end, he received demerits for videotaping a meeting with school officials and for staging a sit-in outside of the school that “blocked traffic,” and was subsequently expelled from the school.
“The meeting over the application to form a student organization is a public issue that should be transparent. Besides, they did not voice any objection when I videotaped,” Chiu said.
‘MARTIAL LAW RULE’
“Many people may think that college campuses are very free after constitutional interpretations No. 382 and No. 684 [sic] gave college students the right to file administrative lawsuits against school decisions or policies,” Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆), spokesman for the Student Rights Team, told the forum. “But the campus is still under some sort of martial law rule.”
He said that despite the measures students are entitled to take, “the [High Administrative] Court would usually decline to hear such cases based on reasons of academic independence.”
Therefore, Lin said, some inadequate rules still existed on campus, such as curfews at student dorms and restrictive procedures for the establishment of student organizations.
“Last year, [National] Kaohsiung Normal University even banned students and professors from commenting on current or social issues as students or faculty members of the school,” Lin said. “Students, as citizens, should enjoy the same degree of rights as everybody else in the country.”
The group urged the Ministry of the Education to help “lift martial law” on campuses, saying student representatives should be involved in discussions on issues related to students’ rights.